Mar 8, 2024 - Health

Anti-obesity drug Wegovy can be prescribed for heart problems, FDA says

A picture of Wegovy injection devices.

Photo: Michael Siluk/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Novo Nordisk's anti-obesity drug Wegovy can be prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attacks and stroke in overweight patients, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday.

Why it matters: The unique approval further expands the market for the blockbuster drug, part of a class of GLP-1 medications that have seen explosive growth as treatments for diabetes and obesity despite their high list prices.

  • About 70% of American adults are obese or overweight and have increased risk for premature death and a variety of health problems.

What they're saying: "Providing a treatment option that is proven to lower this cardiovascular risk is a major advance for public health," John Sharretts, a director in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

By the numbers: Wegovy was found to reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events in a trial of 17,600 patients, the FDA said in a release.

  • Major cardiovascular events occurred in 6.5% of participants on Wegovy compared to 8% in a control group, they said.

Yes, but: U.S. demand for the obesity drugs exceeded supply in 2023, and expanding the patient population could further fuel shortages.

  • Novo Nordisk has filed for a similar label expansion for Wegovy in Europe.

Read more: America's weight-loss drug boom, explained

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